Children performing with Soviet flags in Tallinn square spark criticism ({{commentsTotal}})

Screenshot of Tuesday's video.
Screenshot of Tuesday's video. Source: Kristen Michal/Facebook

A video of a rehearsal for a performance to take place in Tallinn's popular Town Hall Square on Wednesday night shared by Reform Party politician Kristen Michal drew sharp criticism.

Michal, a member of the Reform Party board, shared a video recorded by a friend on his Facebook page, explaining that the friend was walking in Town Hall Square when they came upon the flags of the Estonian SSR and USSR waving, children singing, and a video playing in the background of Soviet tanks arriving in Tallinn.

"Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Centre Party, [Tallinn mayor] Taavi Aas and [Prime Minister] Jüri Ratas?" he asked.

The video, viewed over 7,000 times within a matter of hours, drew criticism from many. Some asked why the performance didn't include a nod to Soviet-era deportations instead, which affected tens of thousands.

"Calm down," Vladimir Svet (Centre), the city district elder of Central Tallinn, responded in the comments under the video. "Come watch the opening performance of Tallinn's Old Town Days at 19.00 and you'll understand that this is a piece dedicated to the history of the 20th Century. I understand that it's elections season, but you should take it easy. The performance is gonna be awesome."

Reform MP Eerik-Niiles Kross responded to Svet, asking if there would be Nazi flags as well.

Ex-Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas (Reform) likewise shared the video, stating that an independent Estonia does not recall the occupation as fun nostalgia. "Jüri Ratas, what your teammates in Tallinn are doing has long since stopped being funny," he added.

City district leader: Come see for yourselves tonight

Svet told ERR on Wednesday that the performance is 40 minutes long and will take place in Town Hall Square on Wednesday night. He explained that the piece focuses on a young Estonian man who ends up in Tallinn's Old Town at the beginning of the 20th Century and experiences every chapter Estonia experienced over the course of 100 years.

"Inevitably, one episode is also the Soviet era," he explained. "Unfortunately, as it happened, for half of the history of the 20th Century, Estonia was part of the Soviet Union." He added that the performance will also include swastikas and things related to the German occupation of Estonia.

According to the city district elder, part of the performance is dedicated to Estonia's years of independence, and that the piece culminates with Estonia regaining its independence and the Estonian blue, black and white flag being brought to Town Hall Square.

The producer of the show, according to Svet, is Vahur Keller, who previously worked for Tallinn's NUKU Puppet Theatre.

Svet stressed that neither the City of Tallinn nor those involved in the production are glorifying the Soviet era or any other regimes and is not offering any judgments.

Watch the video, filmed on Tuesday evening, below:

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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